Page images

CXXV. Few-none - find what they love or could have

loved, Though accident, blind contact, and the strong Necessity of loving, have removed Antipathies — but to recur, ere long, Envenom'd with irrevocable wrong; And Circumstance, that unspiritual god And miscreator, makes and helps along,

Our coming evils with a crutch - like rod, Whose touch turns Hope to dust, – the dust we all have trod.

CXXVI. Our life is a false nature'tis not in The harmony of things, this hard decree, This uneradicable taint of sin, This boundless upas, this all-blasting tree, Whose root is earth, whose leaves and branehes be The skies which rain their plagues on men like

dew Disease, death, bondage -- all the woes we see And worse, the woes we see not- which throb

through The immedicable soul, with heart-aches ever new.

Yet let us ponder boldly —'tis a base 57)
Abandonment of reason to resign
Our right of thought - our last and only place
Of refuge; this, at least, shall still be mine:
Though from our birth the faculty divine
Is chain’d and tortured-cabin'd, cribb’d, confined,
And bred in darkness, lest the truth should shine

Too brightly on the unprepared mind, (blind. The beam pours in, for time and skill will couch the

Arches on arches! as it were that Rome,
Collecting the chief trophies of her line,
Would build up all her triumphs in one dome,
Her Coliseum stands; the moonbeams shine
As 'twere its natural torches, for divine
Should be the light which streams here, to illume
This long-explored but still exhaustless mine

Of contemplation; and the azure gloom
Of an Italian night, where the deep skies assume


CΧΧΙΧ. . Hues which have words, and speak to ye of heaven, Floats o'er this vast and wondrous monument, And shadows forth its glory. There is given Unto the things of earth, which Time haih bent, A spirit's feeling, and where he hath leant His hand, but broke his scythe, there is a power And magic in the ruin'd battlement, For which the palace of the present hour Must yield its pomp,

and wait till ages are its dower.

CXXX. Oh Time! the beautifier of the dead, Adorner of the ruin, comforter And only healer when the heart hath bled Time! the corrector where our judgments err, The test of truth, love, sole philosopher, For all beside are sophists, from thy thrift, Which never loses though it doth defer

Time, the avenger! unto thee I lift My hands, and eyes, and heart, and crave of thee

a gift: Amidst this wreck, where thou hast made a shrine And temple more divinely desolate, Among thy mightier offerings here are mine, Ruins of years - though few, yet full of fate:If thou hast ever seen me too elate, Hear me not; but if calmly I have borne Good, and reserved my pride against the hate Which shall not whelm me, let me not have worn This iron in my soul in vain-shall they not mourn?


CXXXII. And thou, who never yet of human wrong Lost the unbalanced scale, great Nemesis ! 58) Here, where the ancient paid thee homage longThou, who didst call the Furies from the abyss, And round Orestes bade them howl and hiss For that unnatural retribution-just, Had it but been from hands less near – in this

Thy former realm, I call thee from the dust! Dost thou not hear my heart? - Awake! thou shalt,

and must.

CXXXIII. It is not that I may not have incurr'd For my ancestral faults or mine the wound I bleed withal, and, had it been conferr'd With a just weapon, it had flow'd unbound; But now my blood shall not sink in the ground; To thee I do devote it- thou shalt take The vengeance, which shall yet be sought and

found, Which if I have not taken for the sake But let that pass I sleep, but thou shalt yet awake.

CXXXIV. And if my voice break forth, 'tis not that now I shrink from what is sufferid: let him speak W..o hath beheld decline upon my brow, Or seen my mind's convulsion leave it weak; But in this page a record will I seek. Not in the air shall these my words disperse, Though I be ashes; a far hour shalt wreak

The deep prophetic fulness of this verse, And pile on human heads the mountain of my

curse! That curse shall be Forgiveness.

Have I notHear me, my mother Earth! behold it, Heaven!Have I not had to wrestle with my lot? Have I not suffer'd things to be forgiven ? Have I not had my brain sear’d, my heart riven, Hopes sapp'd, name blighted, Life's life lied away? And only not to desperation driven,

Because not altogether of such clay As rots into the souls of those whom I survey.



From nighty wrongs to petty perfidy
Have I not seen what human things could do ?
From the loud roar of foaming calumny
To the small whisper of the as paltry few,
And subtler venom of the reptile crew,
The Janus glance of whose significant eye,
Learning to lie with silence, would seem true,

And without utterance, save the shrug or sigh, Deal round to happy fools its speechless obloquy. CXXXVII. But I have lived, and have not lived in vain : My mind may lose its force, my blood its fire, And my frame perish even in conquering pain; But there is that within me which shalt tire Torture and Time, and breathe when I expire; Something unearthly, which they deem not of, Like the remember'd tone of a mute lyre,

Shall on their soften'd spirits sink, and move In hearts all rocky now the late remorse of love.

CXXXVIII. The seal is set. - Now welcome, thou dread power! Nameless, yet thus omnipotent, which here Walk'st in the shadow of the midnight hour With a deep awe, yet all distinct from fear; Thy haunts are ever where the dead walls rear Their ivy mantles, and the solemn scene Derives from thee a sense so deep and clear

That we become a part of what has been, And grow unto the spot, all- seeing but unseen.

CXXXIX. And here the buzz of eager nations ran, In murmur'd pity, or loud-roar'd applause, As man was slaughter'd by his fellow man. And wherefore slaughter'd? wherefore, but because Such were the bloody Circus' genial laws, And the perial pleasure. Wherefore not? What matters where we fall to fill the maws

Of worms - on battle - plains or listed spot? Both are but theatres where the chief actors rot.

CXL. I see before me the Gladiator lie: 59) He leans upon his hand -- his manly brow Consents to death, but conquers agony, And his droop'd head sinks gradually low And through his side the last drops, ebbing slow From the red gash, fall heavy, one by one, Like the first of a thunder - shower; and now

The arena swims around him — he is gone, Ere ceased the inhuman shout which hail'd the

wretch who won.

CXLI. He heard it, but he heeded not — his eyes Were with his heart, and that was far away; He reck'd not of the life he lost_nor prize, But where his rude hut by the Danube lay There were his young barbarians all at play, There was their Dacian mother — he, their sire, Butcher'd to make a Roman holiday - 60)

All this rush'd with his blood — Shall he expire And unavenged? – Arise! ye Goths, and glut your ire!

CXLII. But here,where Murder breathed her bloody steam; And here, where buzzing nations choked the ways, And roar'd or murmur'd like a mountain stream Dashing or winding as its torrent strays; Here, where the Roman million's blame or praise Was death or life, the playthings of a crowd, 61) My voice sounds much-and fall the stars' faint rays

On the arena void - seats crush'd - walls bow'd And galleries, where my steps seem echoes stran. gely loud.

CXLIII. A ruin - yet what ruin! from its mass Walls, palaces, half-cities, have been rear'd; Yet oft the enormous skeleton ye pass, And marvel where the spoil could have appear’d. Hath it indeed been plunder'd, or but clear’d? Alas! developed, opens the decay, When the colossal fabric's form is near'd:

It will not bear the brightness of the day, Which streams too much on all years, man, have reft away.

CXLIV. But when the rising moon begins to climb Its topmost arch, and gently pauses there; When the stars twinkle ihrough the loops of time, And the low night-breeze waves along the air The garland - forest, which the gray walls wear, Like laurels on the bald first Caesar's head; 62) When the light shines serene but doth not glare,

Then in this magic circle raise the dead: Heroes have trod this spot – 'tis on their dust ye


« PreviousContinue »